[asia-apec 640] APEC 97: Indonesians considered shooting Canadians
gattwd at corso.ch.planet.gen.nz
Thu Sep 10 10:36:15 JST 1998
Indonesians considered shooting Canadians
Documents reveal talks with RCMP during Suharto protests
Wednesday, September 9, 1998, Globe and Mail
By Jeff Sallot
Ottawa -- Indonesian authorities went so far as to ask the RCMP what would happen if
bodyguards accompanying former president Suharto shot anti-Suharto demonstrators during
a Pacific Rim summit meeting in Vancouver last year, internal police documents say.
The Mounties told the Indonesians that Suharto's bodyguards would be allowed to carry
concealed weapons during the summit, but shooting demonstrators "would not be tolerated,"
say the documents obtained yesterday by The Globe and Mail.
The Indonesians also wanted the police to clamp down on Canadian news media that might
be critical of Suharto. The Mounties said they couldn't control the press.
The RCMP reports and other federal documents were turned over to the RCMP Public
Complaints Commission, which is investigating whether police violated civil liberties in
dealing with protesters at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit last November.
At that time federal officials said protesters would be allowed to demonstrate in Vancouver,
expressing their opposition to things such as Indonesia's annexation of East Timor.
The material indicates that senior Canadian officials, including Prime Minister Jean Chrétien,
the host to 15 Pacific Rim leaders, went to elaborate lengths to reassure the now-deposed
Indonesian dictator that he would not have to see or hear Canadians exercising their rights to
Among the disclosures in the documents:
The RCMP ran sound tests -- using the wail of a police cruiser's siren -- before the summit
to make sure that demonstrators would not be heard in the summit meeting hall if they used
Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy apologized to his Indonesian counterpart five
months before the APEC summit, saying that anti-Suharto "Wanted" posters then appearing
in Canadian cities were "outrageous and excessive and not the way Canadians behaved."
Mr. Axworthy followed up with a letter to the Indonesian minister assuring him that
demonstrators would not be allowed in close proximity to Suharto.
Mr. Chrétien gave the same assurances to the Indonesian ambassador and then to Suharto
in a personal letter.
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office, including operations chief Jean Carle, closely
supervised security arrangements, including instructions to keep demonstrators far from the
The PMO has tried to distance itself from the RCMP's treatment of demonstrators, which
included use of pepper spray to clear motorcade routes. Mr. Chrétien's officials have said
the RCMP alone was responsible for security issues.
But the documents tell a different version. One internal RCMP E-mail note said that the
PMO didn't want protest banners at a campus building where they might be seen by summit
"Common sense tells us we do not want banners nor would the PMO's office. Having said
that, banners are not a security issue. They are a political issue. . . . What is the authority for
removing them?" the E-mail says.
The previously undisclosed documents are to be made public today by students from the
University of British Columbia who have complained to the commission that their rights were
violated by the Mounties when they were arrested for protesting at the APEC summit, which
was held on the UBC campus.
The UBC students, as official complainants before the commission, have been granted
access to the documents, including the RCMP report that indicates the Indonesian
authorities were thinking of dealing with anti-Suharto demonstrators in their own violent way.
The Mounties drew the line at shooting, according to the report, prepared last October by
RCMP Staff Sergeant Peter Montague after he briefed Indonesian Ambassador Benjamin
Parwoto and Indonesian security officials about preparations for the summit.
The Indonesians "are very worried about any embarrassing incident such as a demonstration
or somebody calling him a name or throwing an object at the motorcade," Staff Sgt.
Montague's report says.
The Mountie said that alternative motorcade routes were planned to avoid demonstrations.
"This was the most important concession given to them over the past three days. They asked
me several times to repeat this assurance and I did," Staff-Sgt. Montague wrote.
His memo says that the Indonesians "asked us to control what the media publishes
respecting the President and they were told that this would be impossible."
The Indonesians said they wanted Suharto's airplane parked in a position at the Vancouver
Airport that would allow for a "more efficient quick getaway in the event of an incident" and
that two Indonesian armed guards would remain on board the aircraft.
The memo goes on to say: "The subject of guns was discussed. We told them [deleted
words] could carry weapons and they would have to apply through diplomatic channels."
Several words were deleted in the document filed with the commission, apparently for
security reasons. But an RCMP spokesman, Sgt. Russ Grabb, said yesterday that four
Indonesian security officers were allowed to carry their personal handguns into Vancouver
and onto the UBC campus while guarding Suharto.
In the memo, Staff Sgt. Montague said the Indonesians wanted more of their officers to
carry weapons. "Ambassador Parwoto asked us what would happen to one of their FSOs
[foreign security officers] if he pulled his gun and shot someone during the visit. They were
told uncategorically that such a situation would not be tolerated and to keep their guns out of
sight. He then asked what would happen if one of their FSOs grabbed somebody who came
too close to the President. We told them that it should never happen and to leave that type
of thing to us. They seemed to understand."
The memo shows just how paranoid Suharto was about demonstrators, says UBC law
student Craig Jones, who was arrested by the Mounties when he tried to hold up a placard
saying "human rights" along one of the motorcade routes.
Mr. Jones, who is suing Ottawa on the ground that his rights were violated, suspects that the
RCMP will try to build a case before the Public Complaints Commission that the police had
to detain and remove protesters for their own safety in the face of possible trigger-happy
Indonesian security officers.
The Mounties should not have allowed the Indonesian officers into the country with firearms
if that was the case, Mr. Jones said in an interview yesterday.
Several anti-Suharto demonstrators at the time reported seeing armed Indonesian
government agents at the summit.
As the summit date approached, the documents show an ever-increasing concern in Ottawa
that protesters might spoil things for Mr. Chrétien.
The handwritten notes of one RCMP officer indicate that orders came directly from Mr.
Chrétien to remove demonstrators who had pitched tents near the main conference building.
"PM wants tentors out," one entry says.
In Montreal last night, Mr. Chrétien defended the RCMP but said he didn't speak to police
directly about Suharto's security.
"The RCMP had to do its job, and they did their job," Mr. Chrétien said after attending the
launching of the memoirs of pioneering Quebec broadcaster Michelle Tisseyre. "It is normal
in a democracy that you can protest -- but in an orderly fashion."
Mr. Chrétien acknowledged that Suharto had raised security concerns about his visit. "I was
the host and I wanted to make sure that the security of our guest was completely assured,"
he said. "Nobody wanted to have any violence."
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